Literacy Daily

Teaching Tips
    • Job Functions
    • Student Engagement & Motivation
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Teaching Strategies
    • Librarian
    • Project-Based Learning
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Literacy Coach
    • Writing
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading
    • Foundational Skills
    • Topics
    • Teaching Tips
    • The Engaging Classroom
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • Classroom Teacher

    Celebrate Thanksgiving with These Literacy Activities

    By Samantha Stinchcomb
     | Nov 21, 2017

    Turkey ReadingAs U.S. schools prepare to go on Thanksgiving break this week, it can be difficult to keep students engaged and learning amidst the excitement. The days leading up to break present a perfect opportunity to think about values such as gratitude, charity, friendship, and community. Below are a few ways to celebrate the holiday while improving literacy skills!

    • Have students make an “I Am Thankful for…” book, where they write and illustrate what they are most thankful for. This encourages students to demonstrate gratitude while also strengthening their reading and writing skills. 
    • Create your own Feed the Turkey game to help tone reading skills. Using an interactive game keeps students interested and constantly learning throughout.
    • Construct felt depictions of traditional Thanksgiving characters, such as turkeys and vegetables. These can be used to retell fun Thanksgiving stories or to invent your own!
    • See how many different words your child can build by rearranging the letters in Thanksgiving-themed words, such as “thankful,” “turkey,” and “pilgrim.”
    • Play the Gobble Gobble Game. This is a fun, competitive way to practice the alphabet.
    • Help students create Thanksgiving dinner menus. This will give them a chance to show off their writing skills to dinner guests!
    • Challenge students to The New York TimesThanksgiving-themed crossword puzzle.
    • Learn about the language and culture of the Wampanoag tribe.

    For more ideas, check out our previous Thanksgiving-themed blog posts.

    Samantha Stinchcomb is an intern at the International Literacy Association.           

    Read More
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Reading Specialist
    • Struggling Learners
    • Learner Types
    • Writing
    • Speaking
    • Reading
    • Comprehension
    • Foundational Skills
    • Topics
    • Teaching Tips
    • The Engaging Classroom
    • Tutor
    • Teacher Educator
    • Job Functions

    Helping Teaching Teams Find Commonality

    By Jeanne Smith
     | Nov 09, 2017

    reading-disabilitiesWe find struggling readers everywhere. We see them in all class sizes, subjects, and grade levels. They work with classroom teachers, literacy coaches, and one-on-one interventionists. They attend colleges, trade schools, and adult education classes. Despite their different backgrounds, many struggling readers have the same identifiable skills deficits. Classroom teachers, special educators, and other interventionists may work with the same students, depending on the setting.

    Struggling readers and writers will gain the most from their learning program if all literacy professionals on their team work together. Communication, reinforcement, and affirmation are important behaviors that can make small steps more meaningful to everyone invested in students’ success. What follows is a list of some important items to be aware of, regardless of where a student is placed in his or her educational setting.

    Guidelines for effective interventions

    • Language is complex. Reading and spelling disorders can take a long time to overcome and must be addressed through strong teaching, practice, and reinforcement. It is most advantageous to teach decoding and encoding skills concurrently.
    • When different programs, books, or software are used in different settings by different teachers, with no connection made to each other’s instruction, students will have trouble processing the material.
    • Too much emphasis on sight reading, without practice in syllable types, blending sounds, and multisensory learning for multisyllabic words, may lead students to rely on memory rather than develop the skills needed to progress.
    • Memorizing spelling rather than learning to spell by sound and syllable type can also be counterproductive—students may commit too much to memory and be left without the foundational skills to advance. When introducing spelling rule exceptions, struggling readers need a slow, systematic introduction.

    Reminders for teaching reading and decoding, spelling, and encoding

    • Letters have both names and sounds; during the early stages of literacy, students need a solid foundation on sounds.
    • If students have difficulty decoding or sounding out at the earliest level, they may need more practice in blending sounds or identifying syllable types.
    • If students have trouble sounding out words to spell, they may need more instruction in segmenting sounds and working with syllable types.

    Considerations for comprehension

    Strategies such as visualization and metacognitive awareness are very helpful and commonly used in classrooms. However, it is important that comprehension skills be taught not only through strengthening/accommodating students’ listening skills and having them demonstrate comprehension mastery through other modalities but also by incorporating comprehension skills, with decodable text based on their progression. Doing so will help get students with reading disabilities back on the page and build their relationship with print. 

    jeanne smith headshot2Jeanne H. Smith is a literacy specialist at Community High School of Vermont and a correctional educator with St. Albans Probation and Parole.


    Read More
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Home-School Partnerships
    • Topics
    • Teaching Strategies
    • The Engaging Classroom
    • Teaching Tips
    • Teacher Educator
    • Job Functions

    Family Friday

    By Staci Kaplan
     | Nov 08, 2017
    Family FridayI teach in a school system that’s home to a wide socioeconomic disparity. The median household income is $145,083, and approximately 20% of the township’s more than 22,000 residents work in finance and real estate. However, those numbers hide the 6.5% of the population who lives below the poverty line—a significant minority of working-class immigrants for whom English is not their first language.

    This disparity is evident at our school’s annual Halloween assembly, where parents are invited to attend grade-level skit performances, followed by a classroom party. One year, I saw five parents working hard in my classroom to create a festive party, yet outside the classroom door lingered four more immigrant parents who were reluctant to enter. I wanted all my families to feel welcomed and connected, but I didn’t know how.

    A solution crystallized when I heard professor David Schwarzer of Montclair State University speak on culture, language, and curricular choices at the ILA 2015 Conference & Exhibits, in St. Louis, MO. I left with a plan to make all families feel welcomed.

    Introducing Family Friday

    Each year, as students step into a new grade and classroom, teachers should ask, “What stories do our students carry? How can we evoke them?”

    In my third-grade classroom, these questions led to the creation of Family Friday.

    It can feel overwhelming for teachers to add anything new to the schedule. In my classroom, however, a feasible solution was to reserve just 15 minutes each week to open our doors to honor our students’ families, creating the opportunity for personal storytelling and conversation. Through our new Family Friday tradition, students explore cultural experiences perhaps vastly different from their own.

    Family Friday comes from the belief that all students should be given the opportunity to share their own experiences and listen to those of others. The goal in our classroom is to involve families and help students learn about other cultures, traditions, and global experiences. There is no specific format; family members can partner with their children, bring a translator, or ask the teacher to arrange for a translator. They can share photographs, slides, or video of a special place or festival; present cultural symbols and artifacts; read a bilingual book; or tell a story.

    Encouraging participation 

    I teamed up with our school’s bilingual parent liaison to reach out to and encourage our families to participate in Family Friday. Our liaison was extremely successful by following these simple steps:

    • Make personal contact with each family
    • Provide each family with suggestions on what to bring
    • Work alongside each family, as needed, to translate any aspect of the presentation
    • Offer encouragement and emotional support
    • Translate all letters sent home

    Every family she contacted visited our classroom. The best part was watching my students’ faces light up when their parents and siblings were the teachers and storytellers.

    Having meaningful conversations

    Students were delighted to see their classmate’s father translate their names into Mandarin and hear an explanation of their names’ meanings. They heard the story of a student’s family’s struggle to escape from war-torn Honduras, watched a video of a classmate splashing in his favorite watering hole when visiting his grandparents in Mexico, and laughed at the concept of Armenian egg jousting.

    During each Family Friday gathering, we broke into small groups to allow students to ask questions and share ideas. Some jotted ideas into their notebooks while others asked thoughtful questions about the immigrant experience, such as “What was it like to come to a new and strange country? How did you adapt?” 

    Building a community

    Through Family Friday, we are building a culture of kindness, empathy, and respect. As students share their treasured stories to a respectful audience, they feel valued.

    At the end of year, we gathered highlights from each family’s presentation. As a class project, students in the classroom or at home created three slides to represent their family’s contribution. We combined them into a single slideshow with a student-composed soundtrack made with GarageBand.

    We held a celebration where we invited all our families to celebrate “Who We Are.” I looked around my room to see people from Armenia, Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Romania, and the United States. Each student’s story represented a patch on a quilt, stitched together by our classroom community.

    staci kaplan headshotStaci Kaplan, an ILA member since 2014, is a literacy coach for Summit Public Schools in New Jersey.


    This piece originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of Literacy Today, ILA's member magazine.

    Read More
    • Reading Specialist
    • Teacher Educator
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Home-School Partnerships
    • Teaching Strategies
    • Opportunity Gap
    • Literacy Advocacy
    • Policy & Advocacy
    • Writing
    • Vocabulary
    • Speaking
    • Reading
    • Listening
    • Comprehension
    • 21st Century Skills
    • Topics
    • Foundational Skills
    • Teaching Tips
    • The Engaging Classroom
    • Job Functions
    • Tutor

    Resources to Support Family Literacy

    By Samantha Stinchcomb
     | Nov 02, 2017

    Family LiteratureResearch presented by the National Center for Education Statistics has proven that family engagement is one of the most important factors of literacy development, and that children enter kindergarten at a higher reading level when they have a positive learning environment at home. When literary success is highly encouraged and supported by the family, children are more likely to want to read, enjoy reading, and excel in all areas of academics. Below are a few ways to foster family literacy in and out of the classroom.

    Resources for educators

    • Invite students’ parents and family members into the classroom to read their favorite childhood book aloud.
    • Provide a collection of books for students to take home to read with their families.
    • Introduce students and their families to websites such as ReadWriteThink and Reading Rockets and encourage them to engage in these learning games and activities together at home.
    • Assign interactive literacy homework such as group vocabulary exercises or discussion prompts.
    • Create “reading kits” for students to take home. The kits can contain worksheets, vocabulary words, and comprehension questions for families to go over together.

    Resources for parents

    • Write a short story with your child using the day’s events or their imagination.
    • Call Dial-A-Story (416.395.5400) to listen to a story with your child anytime! The service is available in 16 different languages.
    • Involve distant family members in the enjoyment of reading by sharing a book together through video chat apps such as Skype.
    • Make puppets of your child’s favorite literary characters. Use these puppets to act out a scene from the book or to reimagine a scene in a different way.
    • Help your child write to a pen pal. Whether it’s a distant friend or family member, consistently writing to a pen pal fosters important writing and storytelling skills.

    For more ideas, check out the National Center for Families Learning’s 30 Days of Families Learning Together.

    Samantha Stinchcomb is an intern at the International Literacy Association.           

    Read More
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Topics
    • Teaching Tips
    • The Engaging Classroom
    • Volunteer
    • Tutor
    • Teacher Educator
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Job Functions

    Boo! Celebrate Halloween With These Literacy Activities

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 31, 2017

    Ghost ReadingIf you’re scrambling for creative ways to celebrate Halloween in your classroom, it’s not too late! The spooky storytelling games, bewitching books, and haunting history lessons on this list require little to no preparation and will guarantee a ghoulishly good time for all learners.

    • Scholastic’s Halloween Activity Set includes festive book recommendations and spooky writing ideas.
    • The National Education Association’s list of resources for grades 6–8 offers history lessons, read-aloud, poetry, and more.
    • The International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) weekly book review column includes suspenseful and chilling tales.
    • Sadlier’s “spooktacular” resource roundup features reading comprehension worksheets, graphic organizers, and interactive read-aloud guides.
    • Education World offers storytelling and adlib exercises, writing prompts, discussion webs, and more.
    • Halloween coincides with the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Introduce the holiday’s history, tradition, and symbols with TeacherVision’s educational videos and related activities.
    • The Mexic-Arte Museum’s Day of the Dead Educational Activity Guide challenges students to complete a Mesoamerican World crossword puzzle, write a calavera poem, and reflect on their own rituals and observances.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives